MORGANTOWN - After making the playoffs the past four seasons, University was absent from the postseason for the first time since 2007 last year. Coach John Kelley wants to see a different outcome for 2012.
"(We) want to improve on last year's 5-5 (record) and return to the playoffs," Kelley said. "We were a very young team last year. We will be very athletic with speed and size."
Kelley will have seven starters return for his 26th season at the helm.
Three of the five returning offensive starters will be featured on the O-line as tackles Jon Lewis (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) and Trevor Layton (6-1, 235) will be heading into their senior campaigns. Also back on the line is junior Jeff Headley (6-0, 245), who will be handling center duties. Lewis will also be featured in the middle linebacker spot with Layton and Headley heading up the defensive line.
Senior wideout Deion Cunningham (6-1, 175), who has been a starter since his freshman season, will also be back to help lead the offense.
Jack Armstrong (6-0, 160) will be looking to fill the quarterback void left by Travis Maraney. The junior will have to hold off fellow junior Travis Renner (5-9, 179), sophomores Tristan Lucas (5-10, 148) and Jeremy Eckels (5-10, 177) in camp to ensure starting duties.
Senior Chance Michael (5-6 156) and juniors Anthony Frisco (5-7, 192) and Tyler Piktel (5-7, 195) head the list of running backs along with freshman Jacob Costello (5-7, 145). Also seeing action in the backfield will be sophomores Dylan Cole (5-5, 151), Jace Neville (5-7, 155), Nahiem Freeman (5-10, 180) and freshman Owen Lillard (5-11, 166).
Senior Zach Stoldt (6-4, 222), junior Tony Richardson (6-2, 200), sophomore Mitch Phillips (5-10, 168), and freshman Max Snider (6-0, 240) will battle for the starting tight end position. All four will also double as defensive ends.
Other receivers behind Cunningham will be seniors Nicholas Lucas (6-1, 152), Dakota Bodkin (6-3, 165), and Ryan Groves (6-1, 170). The junior receivers are Stratton Spirou (5-6, 142) and John Moore (6-1, 175). Garrett Savage (5-8, 160), Jeremy Hunter (5-10, 181), and Jake Mullett (5-11, 156) comprise the sophomore group. Freshmen Caleb Cox (5-7, 140), Colin Molnar (5-7, 110), Kaleb Jennings (5-8, 131), and Hunter Peddicord (5-11, 146) will also be looking to see some playing time.
Looking to fill the other two holes on the offensive line will be seniors Aaron Hill-Rosiak (6-6, 285), Jeffrey Howdershelt (6-0, 233), Dylon Howell (6-0, 200), Aaron Waldron (5-8, 188), juniors Clint Arbaugh (6-2, 240), Paul Gabriel (6-0, 252), Nicholas Fisher (5-9, 180), sophomores Casey Summers (5-11, 171), Scott Dixon (5-11, 234), Matthew Minard (6-1, 211), Derrick McElroy (6-0, 240) and freshmen Thomas Wallace (5-8, 197), Lucas Cole (6-1, 252), and Jacob Mason (5-10, 219). Many linemen will be playing both sides of the ball.
Backing up Headley at center are Nick Lambert (6-0, 208) and sophomore Tyler Stouffer (5-6, 200).
Senior defensive back Chance Michael (5-6, 156) will be looking to lead the defense. Also trying to fill out the secondary will be Cox, Ramsey, Tristan Lucas, Nicholas Lucas, Cunningham, Savage, Molnar, Moore, Jennings, Neville, Freeman, and Mullett.
''We have very athletic skill kids as kick returners," Kelley said. "We have an excellent kicker in Billy Kinney both placekicking and punting."
Michael, Ramsey, Cunningham, Spirou, Armstrong, and Moore will handle the kick returning duties while sophomore Holden Talton (6-0, 180) will be backing up Kinney on special teams.
Kelley will be assisted this year by John Trivonovich, Eric Snyder, Josh Reynolds and Brandon Tate.